In 2010, Ian Rosenberger (fun fact, Ian also finished 3rd in 2005 Survivor Palau, and was a dolphin trainer at the time) visited Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.He went to help, and while there he met a young man named Tassy who had a cancerous facial tumour and needed surgery to survive. Rosenberger set work, raised the necessary $50,000, brought Tassy to the US, and in short, saved his life.
“I realized that unless we stuck with Tassy until he didn’t need us anymore, this was all just a self-congratulatory exercise. That begged the question: What did it mean for him not to need us anymore?”
He spent a year or so trying to figure that question out. He realised he should provide jobs. It wasn’t just the money they needed; it was dignity, too. But Haiti was resource-poor, and work was hard to come by. Then he had a realisation, one that stemmed from an entry he made in his journal during that first trip: “If Haiti can turn trash into $ = good.” He realised that all the discarded plastic bottles that otherwise littered the streets were in fact a resource.
He founded Thread International, a company that now pays locals to take empty bottles to a collection centre where they are de-labelled and sorted and placed into collection sacks. They’re then taken to a Haitian-run manufacturing plant, where they’re cleaned and processed into plastic ‘flake’, and then those flakes are processed into yarn. That’s where Marmot comes in; they buy the yarn from Thread to create their ‘Marmot x Thread Collection’ line of T-shirts.
Each T-shirt is 50% recycled polyester. That’s 2.25 plastic bottles per shirt. The other 50% is reclaimed cotton. Marmot’s thread tees have helped create 417 jobs in Haiti, but the shirts have less environmental impact, too. The use of pesticides is reduced, carbon emissions are cut by roughly 300 grams, and water usage is decreased by approximately 435 litres (a 50% reduction compared to an ordinary cotton T-shirt).
And the T-shirts don’t just make you feel good ethically,they just feel good period. They’re super-soft.And the recycled polyester means they dry quickly.